PW Exclusive: Isabel Allende Jumps to Ballantine

Isabel Allende has left Atria and signed with Ballantine for her new novel, A Long Petal of the Sea, due in early 2020. The Chilean author is a National Book Award laureate and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. “We feel so honored to publish Isabel Allende on the Ballantine list,” said Kara Welsh, executive v-p, Ballantine Bantam Dell. “This gorgeous, sweeping novel is wonderful, and her readers will love it.” The novel traces the lives of a young pregnant widow and a doctor who escape Spain at the end of the Spanish Civil War aboard the SS Winnipeg, which Pablo Neruda deployed to help the refugees of the conflict begin a new life in Chile (Neruda was Chile’s special consul for immigration in Paris at the time). Johanna V. Castillo of Writers House, on behalf of Carmen Balcells Literary Agency, brokered the rumored six-figure deal for North American rights with BBD editor-in-chief Jennifer Hershey.


St. Martin’s Nabs Nikki Haley’s Book

Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the UN and governor of South Carolina, signed a deal with St. Martin’s for an as-yet-untitled fall 2019 book, in which, the publisher says, “she will talk candidly about her tenure as UN ambassador” and will also be “deeply personal, describing the experiences that shaped Haley’s actions as governor and ambassador, as well as the challenges she and all women face when they assume roles traditionally occupied by men.” In a release, Haley said, “My hope with this book is to give people a unique window into recent history and inspire us toward a better future.” Robert B. Barnett of Williams & Connolly negotiated the deal for world rights with SMP editor-in-chief George Witte.

Atria Speedily Preempts a Brontë Story

PW is first to report that, five days after receiving the manuscript, Atria’s Daniella Wexler preempted a debut historical novel, Brontë’s Mistress by Finola Austin, based on the true, heretofore untold story of Lydia Robinson and her affair with Branwell Brontë. According to the publisher, “the novel gives voice to the courageous, flawed, complex woman slandered in Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë as the ‘wicked’ elder seductress who corrupted the young Brontë brother, driving him to an early grave and bringing on the downfall of the entire Brontë family.” Danielle Egan-Miller at Browne & Miller negotiated the deal for world English and audio rights.

PEN Winner Nick Flynn to Norton

Bill Clegg at the Clegg Agency sold North American rights to Mister Mann, a memoir by PEN/Martha Albrand Award–winner Nick Flynn, to W.W. Norton’s v-p, executive editor Jill Bialosky. The book is an exploration of parenthood and grief, tracing the effects of Flynn’s upbringing by his single mother and her suicide. Flynn is the author of three previous memoirs all published by Norton and is the author of four poetry collections.

Dutton Preempts Captain America

No, Dutton isn’t getting into comic book superheroes—but it did just sign up a memoir from baseball great David Wright, a seven-time all-star voted the “Face of MLB,” written with beat writer Anthony DiComo. Captain chronicles Wright’s 14 years in the major leagues, in which he helped lead the New York Mets to their first division title in a generation and earned the nickname Captain America for his heroics with Team U.S.A. in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. John Parsley at Dutton preempted world rights from Rob Kirkpatrick at Kirkpatrick Literary in the agency’s first deal.

Philomel Flies with Astronaut Abby

Talia Benamy at Philomel has acquired, at auction, a book by Abigail Harrison (aka Astronaut Abby) titled Dream Big! Act Big! Inspire Others! A Guide to Changing the World, set for spring 2021. The book is aimed at helping young readers reach for and achieve their dreams. Harrison works as an international space and STEAM ambassador and is the founder of the Mars Generation, a nonprofit focused on getting adults and kids excited about science and space. Heather Flaherty at the Bent Agency negotiated the deal for world rights.

Yangsze Choo Goes Back to Flatiron

Amy Einhorn and Caroline Bleeke at Flatiron Books paid a rumored mid- to high six figures for world rights, excluding U.K., for the next two (as-yet-untitled) books from Yangsze Choo, whose The Night Tiger was a Reese’s Book Club pick. Jenny Bent, who has an eponymous agency, repped the author.

Behind the Deal

With sales of Adrian McKinty’s The Chain to 31 countries—24 of which signed on at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October—Mulholland has already made back the high-six-figure advance it paid for that and a second title from McKinty. The author is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Edgar, but his agent, Shane Salerno of the Story Factory, said, “This very clearly is his breakout book.” Josh Kendall and Reagan Arthur acquired the world rights for the book, which comes out in July in the U.S.

The Chain is a tale of a chain-letter-like kidnapping scheme. When a woman’s daughter is abducted, she is told that the only way to get her back is to kidnap another child. Her daughter will be released when the next victim in the chain’s parents kidnap another child. If she doesn’t kidnap a child, or if that child’s parents don’t kidnap a child, her daughter will be murdered.

The book has won early praise from heavy hitters, including Stephen King, who said, “This nightmarish story is incredibly propulsive and original.” Tana French called McKinty “one of the most striking and memorable crime voices to emerge on the scene in years.”


● Producer Judith Verno optioned A Serial Killer’s Daughter (Thomas Nelson) by Kerri Rawson for Sony Pictures Television. Rawson is the daughter of Dennis Rader, who dubbed himself the BTK killer (the initials stand for “bind, torture, kill”). Joel Gotler of the Intellectual Property Group negotiated the deal on behalf of Rawson with Doug Grad of his own agency.

● R.J. Palacio’s Wonder is heading to Broadway as a musical produced by Hamilton coproducer Jill Furman for Lionsgate, the studio behind the 2017 film adaptation of Wonder starring Julia Roberts. In a statement, Palacio said that the project is “quite literally, a dream come true.”


● Re-naissance’s Laurie Blum Guest has brokered a coedition agreement with the Titan Publishing Group on behalf of Perilous Worlds for Conan and the Living Plague, a novel by John C. Hocking. Titan acquired rights for the U.K., Ireland, and British Commonwealth. Perilous Worlds’ U.S. edition is releasing this month. The U.K. edition will pub in September.

● Diane Turbide, publishing director of Penguin Canada, bought world rights to The Billionaire Murders: The Mysterious Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman by Toronto Star investigative reporter Kevin Donovan, for October publication. Samantha Haywood and Jesse Finkelstein of the Transatlantic Agency brokered the deal.

For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.